The military prosecution said Wednesday it filed for an arrest warrant for a senior Marine officer over allegations he disobeyed an order from the defense minister in relation to an internal probe into last month's death of a young soldier.
Col. Park Jung-hun is accused of handing over the probe findings on the death of Cpl. Chae Su-geun, who died while on a search mission for missing people during downpours, to the civilian police despite Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup's order to hold it off for more legal deliberations.
"The military prosecution requested the arrest warrant given the gravity of the matter and risk of destruction of evidence, as the accused continues to refuse to be investigated," the defense ministry said.
"We express regret over the string of unilateral statements by the accused, and expect that he will make necessary arguments and express his opinion on the evidence within the investigative procedure," the ministry said.
Park spearheaded the preliminary probe into what contributed to the death of Chae, who was swept away by a torrent at a stream in Yecheon County, 161 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on July 19 while on a mission to search for victims of the downpours.
Park said his decision to hand over the case to the police was lawful. Park's lawyer claims he had been pressured by the ministry to omit allegations of criminal activity by individuals in the report.
The defense ministry viewed the transfer as an act of insubordination. Park has been relieved of his post as the Marines' chief investigator and is refusing to cooperate with the investigation.
The military police is to transfer a case, involving a troop fatality, to the police if there are signs of any criminal activity in the case.
The military has faced accusations that proper safety measures had not been taken for troops deployed in the search operations. (Yonhap)